Jinja Safari not locked by land
Marcus Azon has always felt an affinity with African rhythms thanks to his grandmother living there. But until this year he'd never been.
Azon and Cameron Knight formed Jinja Safari only last year but have since released Locked By Land, which includes the work they had released before that as well as a few extras.
Both Knight and Azon made the trip to the band's namesake Jinja, Uganda to find inspiration for new material.
When I speak to Azon he has only been back for a week and his tales from his first trip to a third world country threaten to bring us both down.
Thankfully, we change subject. "Let's talk about music," I suggest.
"Yes, I think that will put a smile back on my face," Azon says with relief.
The reason the pair went over was to be reminded what it was they were trying to do as a band.
"I remember just before I left being bogged down in all the business that goes on when you're in a band now," he says. "I just wanted to go somewhere and open up again. I wanted to have a life-altering experience."
Azon admits to having a short fuse and being difficult to deal with sometimes as part of a band, but he also realised the trip wasn't going to change who he was.
"I don't think something can change you," he says. "You just have to learn to let go of some things in order to make it work."
Azon and Knight spent time recording different rhythms and kids singing that they plan to use as samples on their next album.
Jinja Safari is really a five-piece, but as it stands Knight and Azon are the principal songwriters.
"We have tried to write together," Azon admits. "But there's an expression to go with this situation - too many chefs spoil the broth. We're just not the jam band we wanted to be, or as I pictured anyway."
Jinja Safari formed last year after Knight and Azon were working together on the New South Wales Central Coast at a hang-gliding company.
It's not quite the romantic tale of beach parties and Azon wooing Knight with a drum beat you may have read elsewhere. But it's, well, it's what Azon tells me.
And thanks to a fair whack of momentum Jinja Safari is still on track. Azon admits for the five years prior to forming Jinja Safari he had given up on music and has had to learn how to play with a band again.
"I've jammed with a lot of dudes over that time," Azon says. "To be honest, the only thing that has kept us together is momentum. I really like just bouncing off lots of different people.
"But because Cameron is such a good producer it meant it was really made with love. It was exciting and focused. With the addition of the other boys making it such a full on live show it has just kept going."
After their first gig to family and friends in the bush where they encouraged their audience to dress as animals, the band (mostly Azon) has moved on from the animal gimmick (so best leave those bear ears behind).
The band took out the Triple J Unearthed Splendour competition, toured with Art Vs Science and Boy & Bear and set off on a headline tour of their own last week.
Knight and Azon are chipping away at new material with more focus on the live drumming and poly-rhythms than ever before.
Azon says he has also been working with different producers and promises it will all come out sounding like "Summer time on the beach."
Jinja Safari plays The Northern, Byron Bay on Friday, November 25 at 8.30pm. Tickets $21, www.thenorthern.com.au.